The Methodist Church of Southern Africa has rewritten history by inducting its first female Presiding Bishop. Reverend Purity Malinga takes over the reins from Bishop Zipokuhle Siwa, after he served three terms.
Malinga says the church has to change its patriarchal views. Her induction comes just months after Reverend Vukile Mehana’s bigoted comments about women priests.
The church has a following of 3 million in six southern African countries.
The KwaZulu-Natal born Malinga entered the ministry in 1981.
She was elected in May 2019.
“We give thanks to the Methodist people for hearing the groans, who long for us to be human together, breaking all barriers that hinder our life of following. I will use this opportunity to make the call that I’ve heard from the Methodist people in the six member countries of our conference, which is a deep prayer and a call for responsible leadership. Responsible leadership is crucial in reversing the impact that destroy God’s creation and of God’s people,” says outgoing Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa.
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In her address, Malinga lamented the oppressive systems in the church.
“When he created men and women in God’s image, God had envisioned a humanity holding hands, doing and fulfilling God’s wishes. However, the people of the church and world have disobeyed God and patriarchy has become the system – a system that excludes, oppresses, ignores those of the female gender and so for me, today is the fulfillment of the will of God”
She has appealed to the church to resist gender discrimination.
“I stand here not as a tool or a sign to absolve the prevailing sexism that exists in the church. We still need to work hard on that. I stand here as a sign from many who are Methodist people who have agreed and are committing themselves to eradicate gender discrimination. We need to work on all things that do not make us the church that God wants us to be.”
The church says Malinga’s induction ends two centuries of discrimination.